Monday, June 29, 2009

Hey Dude, Your Pants are on Fire...

"Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give in the matter now pending before this court will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"

When you, the defendant, and I, the police officer, each say "I do" or "yes" or whatever affirmative answer you choose to give, we are now under oath. If we do not tell the truth, or if we outright lie, it is called perjury.

I wish my defendants in traffic court would remember that.

When I go into traffic court, I testify about what happened to the best of my recollection. I generally have notes on the back of my cite that I refer to to refresh my recollection. If I don't recall something, I say "I don't recall". If something didn't happen, I don't say it did. I don't "tailor" my testimony to make sure I win. I couldn't care less whether I win or lose in court.

The problem is when the defendant stands over there and lies through their teeth. "I was driving at the speed limit." No you weren't, and you know it because you told me during the stop that you were in a hurry and not paying attention to your speed. See? I wrote it down right here in my notes.

Or when the defendant brings in a letter from his employer saying the load the driver was carrying that day stayed within California, and did not originate or terminate outside this state. But I still have the document I collected from you that day that shows that same load originated in China and was destined for Nevada.

Or how about when the defendant says there was no sign there prohibiting the turn they made, even though they didn't bother to go back that day to look. Hey dummy, I have pictures from before and after the day I cited you, and they show the signs very clearly. Did we take the signs down just so we could write you the ticket, then put them back up the next day? Nope, that would be way too much effort for a lousy traffic ticket.

If I stood there and lied in court like they do, I'd lose my job and potentially face criminal charges. Shouldn't the defendant be held to the same standards? Just once I would love to see our traffic court commissioner have a defendant hooked up for perjury because they are so obviously lying in court.

Anybody got a fire extinguisher?

12 comments:

Front Porch Society said...

Now that would be a novel idea.....perjury charges against the morons who try to lie in court. Wish it could really happen!

Sandra G. said...

I hate it when people lie in court.

MotorCop said...

Couldn't agree with you more, "Smith". There have been times I just look at the defendant and shake my head in disbelief while they're testifying.

Sean said...

One of my frustrating ones was watching a very nice case get dismissed - with the judge even saying to the defendant "I have no doubt in my mind you perjured yourself here today." but letting it slide anyway...

Part of that whole double standard... the same one that exempts defense attorneys from most of the rules too it seems.

*Goddess* said...

I always think it sounds incredibly bad when I'm watching Speeders and the officers asks the person if they knew how fast they were going, and they say, "I have no idea." How in the world do you defend yourself against that?!

fuzzys dad said...

These liars should be punished.

The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

I worked a spell as a sworn gun toting DMV Investigator in the Bay Area. Do you know what we arrested most of our suspects for? It wasn't ID theft, or anything you might think. It was for Perjury. All those DMV forms you fill out say that you swear the information you provide to the DMV is true and acurate blah blah blah, and if your not truthful we will prosecute you blah blah blah... a quick tip. I processed hunderds of cases... we did arrest and actually booked people into jail on felonies for white lies... Officer

Beat And Release said...

I would be happy if we could just get IAB to prosecute the liars that file complaints on officers. "Can't do that. It would make people feel like the couldn't come to us with their complaints." Well, it make the liars feel that way, IMO.

Albany Lawyer said...

Must be different in my area. Most defendants I see have no idea what they're doing or saying, and I've seen more than a few cops tell whoppers.

Jay said...

In my household we have a saying,
"You can lock up from a thief but you can't lock up from a liars tongue".
So I guess you can't stop a liar from doing what he does best and it's just a matter of sorting the fact from the fiction. However, in a legal situation where we have laws to dissuade a liar from practicing his trade then why on earth aren’t Judges protecting the court by enforcing the law? It's a real mixed message.

BootedCop said...

Right before I retire, I wanna go into traffic court with a tape player (ok ok CD player or whatever I'm dating myself I know) and whenever the defendant opens his mouth play that song LI-AR! LI-AR! by 3 Dog Night. I think it was 3-dog....checking archives...

Texas Ghostrider said...

Our IAD wont file perjury or false report even if they can prove the person who filed the complaint agaist the LEO is outright purjuring themselves.....